When to Stop in a Blind-Spot

Shows docking blind-spot
Superstructure creates a blind-spot over main dock

When you are finalizing docking in your slip, can you see when to stop? Some main walkways or walls at the front end of some slips are quite low (brown in the drawing) and when combined with a high bow, the Captain’s vision is obstructed—a blind-spot.

Blind-Spot Created

Some Captains can’t see the last 10 feet or so of their slip because the superstructure blocks their view. So to be safe, they stop early, then the crew pushes and/or pulls the boat in the rest of the way. (To simplify the drawing, we did not draw the finger docks) You can easily see the problem of the blind spot not knowing where the main dock is—you can’t see it from the helm.

I’ve seen this challenge confront several Captains.

When Dave stopped part way into his slip, the cross breeze blew his cruiser into his slip neighbor. Another day when he stopped prematurely, the wind was from the opposite direction. This time, his cruiser’s hull side, about 10’ ahead of the transom, crashed against the sharp corner of his finger dock—resulting in an ugly, expensive scrape.

His crew was unknowingly trying to pull his boat further into the slip by pulling hard on the stern line. The problem was, she was positioned at the forward end of the cockpit pulling on the aft corner of the cockpit.

Eliminate Blind-Spot

Here’s an idea that I gave Dave to eliminate the blind spot ahead of his boat and to identify where the edge of the main dock was.

Red flag raises the dock so it is visible from the helm.
  • Install a marker up above the edge of the main walkway approximately where his anchor pulpit/tip of the bow should stop. (red flag pole in the drawing)
  • Depending on what you have available or can find, you could attach something like an old VHF antenna to this spot on the edge of the main walkway.
  • Some other items that could be used as your marker pole are:
    • A length of 2×2 lumber
    • An unused snowmobile or motorcycle antenna
    • An old ski pole
    • A driveway marker

A marker pole will stand high enough that you can see it above your fore deck or cabin roof. Visually, the edge of the dock appears high enough to see from the helm. Just before your bow touches this marker, STOP. You’re all the way in.

Another trick to knowing when to stop once in your slip, is using our FLIPP Line procedure, which we explain in full detailed step-by-step instructions with diagrams in each of our Docking Lessons.

For Captains who have this blind-spot of not being able to see when to stop, how do you do it?  I’d love to know how you have solved this challenge. Leave your comments below.

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